" The modern, western, world" said Tom " is in a continual state of low-level grief."
We mulled. The pace of change, the need for novelty, is such, we decided, that as soon as we have one thing, it is snatched away from us, and we are flooded with new information and new stimuli we must adjust to, with no time to grieve for what's gone, or even to recognise that we are grieving. So we live with a yearning, a sense of something missing that we can't account for.
" Take the news," he went on " no sooner are you told one story, involved with it, than it's not news any more. You don't hear any more about it, it's left unresolved."
We pay a price to allay our fear of boredom. We could not, we think, go back to the time out elderly friends and neighbours regret the passing of, say was better and kinder, when you mostly stayed in the same place, saw the same people, did and talked about the same things, ate the same food,kept up the same round. That very sameness, the stasis, would, we feel, drive us mad, and many of them couldn't wait to get to Paris anyway, either through economic or educational necessity, or simple restlessness. But have we confused movement with meaningful journeyings?
" It was ever thus," I counter " people have always been confounded by change, beset by loss. Perhaps it's just the human condition."
'All is flux, nothing stays still,' and
'All standeth on change, like a midsummer rose.'
" And anyway," I added " in the old days, people died more."
The goldfinches are suddenly gone, I realise, as I look out at the chestnut tree, just in this last day or so, after a few brief weeks of nesting. As with the mistle thrushes which set up last year in the laurel hedge right next to the house, I didn't see the going of the young ones. For the space of a day, dawn till dusk, the parent thrush called and chivvied persistently perched above the nest, then all was silence and stillness. Similarly I was aware of the adult goldfinch on the swaying, springing twigs around the ivy-clad trunk where the nest was, tseeing softly, drawing more attention to itself than previously, but seeming to make no further effort to enter it. Now the frenetic comings and goings to the sow thistles have all ceased, and with the bullfinches likewise. Unlike the sparrows, robins and blackbirds, but as with the thrushes, they don't appear to stay around human habitation with the young - the baby blackbirds are a worry and a heartache at this time of year - but are gone away to the fields and hedgerows.
No more excuses; we can pull up the sow thistles now.